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Home > Weblog w/e 16.2.2002

Saturday 16 February 2002, 22:00 GMT
I mentioned on Tuesday that I'd bought me some Buffy on DVD. I noticed today that Claude Lalumière had written a review of the US release of season 1 for Locus Online that expresses just how good the show was from the very start much more eloquently than I can.
Word power. During today's web browsing session I expanded my vocabulary. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I now know...
... the meaning of the word "boustrophedon" (inspired by Rodney O Lain's use of it in the postscript to this article);

... what a Nixie Light is.
French Judge Gives Taliban Win. Afghan Fighters' Artistic Impression Marks Mysteriously Higher.
Author at work: do not disturb. Neal Stephenson is very busy. I just hope he's hard at work figuring out how to write a decent ending to a novel for a change. [Via MetaFilter]
Thursday 14 February 2002, 21:25 GMT
Oh ... my ... God! You don't see a man doing that every day.

(I know that's not a particularly descriptive link, but it really is something you're better off seeing cold. It's work-safe, but you may frighten your co-workers with an involuntary yelp when you see the photo.)
I noted a few weeks ago that one side effect of MacOS X's Unix roots might be that it would be Apple, rather than any of the Linux distributors, that would bring open source software to the masses. Now The Register reports a claim that Apple might be doing rather better than Linux at the necessary first step in this process, ie getting an open Unix variant on desktops. [Via Boing Boing]
Valentine's Day, Slashdot-style. [Via Found]
Wednesday 13 February 2002, 23:00 GMT
Bad news. Futurama has been cancelled. Of course, given that Channel 4 seem determined to keep showing the same old season 1 episodes once every three weeks or so there's a fair chance that it's going to take me until about 2010 to catch up with the final episode. [Via MetaFilter]
Turns out I'm not quite Dido. I got 8 out of 25. I think that if you have more than one album by the artist it shouldn't count. Why penalise fans?

The albums I have are The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, The Joshua Tree, Play, OK Computer, Jagged Little Pill, Different Class, Carry On Up The Charts and Solitude Standing. My revision to the rules takes my score to 5/25, taking U2, Radiohead and Pulp out of the picture. [Via not.so.soft]
The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick by R. Crumb. One very strange guy relates the story of another strange guy. [Via linkmachinego]
What do you get if you cross The Lord of the Rings with Blackadder? [Via Rebecca's Pocket]
Tuesday 12 February 2002, 23:00 GMT
Opera have released version 6.01 of their wonderful web browser for Windows. I find that version x.0 of Opera is generally just a little too temperamental for my liking, so I was waiting to see the first bugfix.

So far, it's been as fast and stable as ever, and some of the new features have been very useful. My favourite is the ability to highlight text on a web page, right-click, and search for that text in a variety of contexts: MP3 files, various web search engines (including Google/Google Groups), domain names, and Amazon's database. Oh yes, and you now have the option of opening each page in a separate window, for those who hate the Multiple Document Interface. The one real niggle I can see is that some bitmap images are displayed inverted, but I haven't had a chance to figure out what the common factor is yet. Most of the sites I've seen so far are unaffected, but a few look most odd.
Scientists have discovered fossilised dinosaur vomit. How nice for them. I'm not entirely sure what the point of the second photo on the page - the one with the professor, the vomit and the plastic prehistoric creatures - is.
OK, so you're employed as a web designer. Does that really mean you need internet access? [Via Spot Light]
The Oral Sex Donation System. Well, it might work... [Via digitaltrickery.com]
I treated myself to a set of Buffy DVDs the other day. It's been enormous fun to see season 1 again and be reminded just how good the show was from the beginning. Granted, some elements improved quite a bit after the first season - most visibly the fight scenes - but so many of the basic elements were in place and in full working order pretty much from day one. The Scooby Gang just clicked, and the stories ranged from OK to pretty good. Then in the second season things really got going: Angel/Angelus/Angel, Spike 'n' Dru, Jenny Calendar, Willow's witchery, Cordelia 'n' Xander. Then there was that astounding, thrilling, heart-rending finale.

My sole complaint is that the packaging of the individual DVDs in the season 2 box set is a crime. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to pack the DVDs so tightly that you're almost guaranteed to scuff them when you remove them?
While I'm on the subject of DVDs, it's worth noting that seminal 90s teen drama My So-Called Life is finally to be released on DVD, following an online petition organised by mscl.com. Details of the release can be found at http://www.anotheruniverse.com/mscldvd. The release is Region 0, so there's no need to worry about whether your DVD player can cope with Region 1 discs. The cost for the full 19-episode set is US$99.98. There are a couple of drawbacks, though.

First of all, the DVD is being released exclusively through a single online distributor, so you can't just go to Amazon or Play247 or Blackstar and find out who does the best deal. Second, they're unable to guarantee that there will be more than a single production run. Given that they're asking for a US$20 pre-order deposit, you have a choice between pre-ordering and finding that there's never a second production run and missing out completely. Third, the overseas postage rate is a bit steep. Finally, the online order process is rather confusing. According to the information given on the site you enter the Coupon Code "MSCL" to ensure that you're not charged for post and packaging on the pre-order, but when I followed through with the order the order confirmation it included the overseas delivery charge. The email order confirmation confirmed that I hadn't been charged for delivery, so it's all systems go.

In the final analysis, this is an opportunity to get hold of one of the very best series of the 90s on DVD, a show that isn't often shown on terrestrial TV, so I can live with a few little niggles along the way.
Monday 11 February 2002, 21:25 GMT
Swiss newspaper Le Temps is to fine journalists for making errors in spelling or grammar. I wonder if someone from Nottingham City Council has been seconded to Switzerland. [Via rc3.org]
An Evil British Empire.
A Scheme
Professor Moriarty studied the map of London carefully. The area of Whitechapel claimed by Fu Manchu had been bitterly contested, but the victory, such as it was, lay with Britain. The negotiations with Fu Manchu had been tense, but an agreement had been hammered out. The underworld of London belonged to Moriarty, but the legitimate rights of the Chinese in Whitechapel were to be respected. Moriarty smiled; it was all terribly reminiscent of power politics by the respected national leaders. Treaties and warfare and diplomacy.

"And why not?" he said. "Fu Manchu runs his land as his personal fiefdom. Britain deserves to be Great, and I am its destined leader."
Sounds like an outline for a Kim Newman novel - and I mean that as a compliment. [Via weblog.vavatch.co.uk]
Just in case you were still entertaining any doubts as to whether Enron's management were amoral scumbags, Salon reveals that just days before declaring bankruptcy and telling employees that they wouldn't be getting the severance packages outlined in their contracts, Enron paid several of the senior managers who presided over the fiasco "retention bonuses" totalling some US$55 million. [Via Boing Boing]
An interview with Ken MacLeod. Good stuff. This wide-ranging interview touches on much of the subject matter of his first few novels.

Ken MacLeod is my favourite of the late 90s generation of British SF writers. One part of me would love to see what a collaboration between MacLeod and his pal Iain M Banks would look like. Trouble is, I can't see MacLeod getting along with the Culture's Minds. [Via weblog.vavatch.co.uk]
Palm and pizza. So not a good combination. [Via Davezilla]
Sunday 10 February 2002, 22:55 GMT
It's official: Ian Duncan Smith is no dummy. Oddly enough, they've left the Ken Clarke mannequin in place. [Via qwertyuiop]
Powers Phillips, Attorneys At Law. Lawyers with a sense of humour? Here's an excerpt from their Obnoxious Disclaimer:
Due to circumstances beyond our control some documents on this website have not one funny word in the whole document. Worse than that, we have had to rely on our individual lawyers to supply us with their resumes and other biographical information. There is just no telling what kind of lies they may have put in those documents. Our firm is a small firm.  We do not have the resources to try to track down every possible lie one of our lawyers may be telling. Just take all that stuff with a grain of salt.
[Via Netsurfer Digest Volume 8.3]
Asylum Valentines. For that special person in your life. [Via a fire inside]

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